Tracks4Africa map set made for the intrepid explorer
It’s now the third time you’ve heard that lion roar. Each time the sound seems closer and you can taste the sweat beading on your upper lip despite the night- time chill. Inside the car the icy evening air is matched by your wife’s demeanour. A glance in the rear view mirror shows the chalk- white face of your eldest looking back at you accusingly. Saving that few hundred Rand by not updating your GPS mapset was not your smartest move, and consequently missing the turn- off to camp after nightfall has elevated you from Moremi explorer hero to zero in your family’s eyes.
Using updated maps while travelling through Africa can quite literally mean the difference between life and death. The new Tracks4Africa GPS mapset – designed specifically for the avid African traveller – is all you need to stay on the not- so- straight and narrow on your next adventure. Driving through Africa has got to be one of the most rewarding experiences in the world. The adventure coupled with the freedom to travel on your own schedule is a special experience. Adventure, however, by its very nature, is closely associated with danger, uncertainty and risk. With several dangers lurking on the roads, you need nerves of steel, catlike reflexes and a good navigator. If there’s one thing worse than driving through 200 kilometres of car- eating potholes and suicidal cattle, it’s driving the same road back again in the dark because you’ve gone the wrong way. In order to create a reliable GPS map, the Stellenbosch- based creators of Tracks4Africa ( T4A) have compiled GPS date collected from experienced 4x4 travellers. T4A has taken to the task of “making Africa visible” with impressive success. What started as a community of intrepid adventurers sharing remote GPS coordinates has become the ultimate traveller’s resource. This available data can fit into the palm of your hand in the form of a SD card and is largely regarded as the most accurate in Africa. But who will benefit the most from the Tracks4Africa GPS mapset? According to T4A director Johann Groenewald, T4A will appeal to any self- drive tourist in Africa. “The maps may overlap with conventional city maps, but it is packed with points of interest ( POI) relevant to self- drive travellers. Further to this it extends into the remote areas of Africa, but again, where it appeals to travellers. We like to call this the Traveller’s Africa.” Groenewald adds that roads and tracks are included via GPS recordings from fellow travellers. “This would imply that if you study a map by numbers, it will not look impressive when compared to other map makers, but when you test drive the map in real conditions, you will find that it provides the kind of information that you’ll need on the road.” Tracks4Africa is also packed with quirky details about things and places you would very seldom find on a conventional map. However, apart from the map content itself, another cool feature is the ability to toggle between a city map and the Tracks4Africa maps. Groenewald continues: “Self- drive travellers have a hierarchy of needs from a navigation system, like where do we sleep tonight; where do we find fuel and related auto services; where do we buy supplies or get something to eat or drink; what can we see and do here ( think anything from a waterhole in Kruger to the King’s Summer Residence in Zambia); and where do we go in case of emergency? T4A will answer all these questions for you. “Another feature that will benefit users is a route calculation setting which allows you to avoid four- wheel- drive tracks. The default use of Tracks4Africa is to include these tracks, but we can see the advantage of being able to avoid these in certain situations,” Groenewald says. Jaguar Land Rover South Africa is one of the first auto manufacturers to represent an industry first as a factory- fitted integrated system, combining the latest generation of Tracks4Africa with a sophisticated on- board unit using hardware that allows for SD card software and map updates. The result is the very best of satellite navigation whether you’re travelling on dirt or tarmac. Landy drivers are the first to benefit from integrated satellite navigation with extensive maps across 22 sub- Saharan African countries. This makes exploring Africa that much simpler for fearless adventurers, minimising travel time, distance and improving safety – even when travelling to the most remote destination on the continent. “Land Rover is an iconic brand associated with adventure and Africa and we’re very privileged that Jaguar Land Rover SA has decided to make use of our maps. I think the team at JLR can be commended for being the first vehicle manufacturer to have taken this step and we certainly hope that its customers will experience added value in a package that is already hard to beat,” says Groenewald. T4A provides access to a network of around 720 000 kilometres of navigable roads in Africa. This represents 90 per cent of the roads ever travelled by self- drive tourists in Africa, cataloguing thousands of points of interest
along the way. For example, in Angola it maps nearly 20 000 roads and tracks, and details more than 2 500 points of interest. This is growing all the time thanks to the userdriven interface of T4A. The African version provides turn- by- turn directions from Cape to Cairo. However, be warned, the maps do not offer wall- to- wall coverage – only map places that are relevant to travellers. Another thing to keep in mind is that T4A GPS maps are compatible with Garmin devices only. T4A offers an accurate list of protected areas such as nature reserves in Africa. T4A GPS Maps will take you anywhere on the continent, sporting a comprehensive set of tourist destinations, whether it’s the Hole in the Wall in Transkei or remote areas of the Kgalagadi. You don’t have to buy them all at once; simply make a selection of the regions or countries you’re interested in. As well as South Africa, Tracks4Africa embraces countries like Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Venturing further north, the same level of coverage is available in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, with coverage of urban areas in countries like Benin, Ghana, Senegal, Togo, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.
A partnership with Land Rover
According to Groenewald, the navigation system will be rolled out in all Land Rover and Range Rover models equipped with a navigation system. “It made sense to standardise the package for all models,” he says. The software is provided by NNG from Hungary which customised its iGO Primo software to be integrated into the Jaguar Land Rover entertainment system. The core navigation functionality is easy to use and designed for vehicle- based navigation. Some buttons have been moved around a bit to fit in with the navigation system. “Working with a big company like Land Rover is not always easy for a small outfit like ourselves. The testing of the navigation system transpired into a trip to Khutse Game Reserve in Botswana with my old Discovery 2 Td5 and the boys from Solihull in a black Range Rover Sport. Initially, I had my doubts about the choice of tyres, but all in all, we had a great time and I was immensely impressed with the Range Rover’s transformation from sports car to off- road vehicle.” says Groenewald.
What’s new on the T4A map?
T4A GPS Maps will be preloaded on a two gigabyte micro SD card with standard adaptor. The card also contains installation files for PC and Mac users who want to install the maps on their computers for trip planning or transferring maps to older Garmin units.
The map in general has seen a lot of corrections in terms of road conditions, focusing on added data about seasonal roads in Namibia. In Angola, the major roads between Zambia and Angola have now been mapped. On the Western Africa map, once again, a lot of data has been added, especially in terms of protected areas. On the East Africa map, the new Nairobi northern bypass road has been added. Morocco has also seen a major improvement. A lot of data has been reworked to update the road types and many new towns have been added. Support of Nüvi 2000 and 3000 ( except the Nüvi 3760) series as well as the new Montana series has been confirmed. According to the T4A’s website, there are unresolved issues on the 3760 and it is recommended that T4A not be used on this until further notice. But what if you’re just a broker with an average set of wheels and a burning desire to explore the rough edges of Africa? No sweat. Places like Botswana are waiting for those without 4x4s. These days you can simply rent one. Just remember to take your trusted map with you wherever you go. How to update your Tracks4Africa map set on your vehicle’s integrated GPS system? T4A GPS Maps are available on SD card for your Garmin- compatible GPS as well as your in- car navigation system. Simply download the latest T4A GPS map updates from T4A’s online store ( http:// tracks4africa. co. za/ shop) and load onto your SD card. T4A maps are updated every May and October.